Raptors in 5
The Washington Wizards hope the return of John Wall could be the spark they need as they face to Toronto Raptos in the first round. The Wizards were 7-14 in the final 21 games, most of which were played without Wall. The Raptors posted the best record in the Eastern Conference, and need to erase doubts that people have about their chances to seriously reach the NBA Finals. In the regular season Toronto split four games against the Wizards, showing Washington could give the Raptors a fight. The Raptors have been the best team in the East since January, and will show they are for real, as DeMar DeRozan leads the way in five games.
Rockets in 5
The Houston Rockets soared in 2018, posting the best record in the NBA at 65-17. The Minnesota Timberwolves meanwhile needed to win their final game to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Timberwolves have a telented roster with rising star Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, but James Harden has been the best player in the NBA all-season, winning the scoring title as he is the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA MVP. The Rockets won all four regular season meetings against Minnesota. This one could also be a sweep, but I believe the Timberwolves win one game at home, but the Rockets will win the series easily.
Bucks in 6
No team has had more injury troubles than the Boston Celtics, who lost Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season, and Kyrie Irving in the final two months. If Kyrie Irving alone stayed healthy the Celtics would be a serious contender, but with both out with season-ending injuries they are vulnerable to an early knockout. The Milwaukee Bucks have been inconsistent at times, but when they are clicking they are just as good as anyone in the Eastern Conference. With the Celtics shorthanded, expect Milwaukee to get a big series Giannis Antetokounmpo, as the Greek Freak dominates the Celtics in the middle.
Warriors in 6
Last year the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs met in the Western Conference Finals, as one of the most anticipated matchups of the postseason. The Spurs had a big lead in Game 1, before Kawhi Leonard suffered an injury, missing the rest of the series as Golden State rallied and swept the series. Leonard has been missing in action most of the season in San Antonio, recently he has expressed a desire to return, but remains sidelined. The Warriors also have major injury issues, as Stephen Curry won’t be in the first round. Kevin Durant should and will step up and carry the Warriors as the Spurs look like a great team about to hit a major decline.
76ers in 5
The Philadelphia 76ers asked their fans over the last five years to trust the process as they tanked games to stockpile draft picks. The process appears to be complete, as the Sixers ended the season with 16-straight wins and earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 52-30. The Miami Heat did split their four games with Philadelphia, but the Sixers at the end of the year looked like they have come together at the right time. Look for the Sixers to continue their run as they process the Heat out of the playoffs in five games wit
Pelicans in 6
Aside from the top two teams the Western Conference was a scramble as three games seperated third place from ninth. The Portland Trail Blazers were not originally in the scramble but did get caught do to a late season slump. The New Orleans Pelicans meanwhle finished strong winning their last five games. When the season began for New Orleans they hoped the dynamic duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis could carry them into contention. After Cousins went down Smith put up MVP numbers look for that to continue as the Pelicans win in six.
Cavaliers in 5
The Cleveland Cavaliers coasted much of the second half last year and flipped the switch in the playoffs, sweeping the first two rounds, including a first round match up agains the Indiana Pacers. However, all four games were close as the Pacers had their chances to steal each game. The Pacers got a great season from Victor Oladipo, but this is LeBron James’ time of the year. In the regular season, the Cavaliers won three of four games aganst Indiana, it is hard to see the Pacers turning things around and throwing a big scare into the Cavaliers who take the series in five games.
Thunder in 7
For the second straight season, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the entire season, though he had to do some major stat padding late in the year to get to 10 rebounds per game. The Utah Jazz after a slow start turned things around after Rudy Gobert returned from an injury in January. The Oklahoma City Thunder overall have the better team with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony playing alongside Westbrook. The Jazz offense meanwhile is led by Rookie Donovan Mitchell. This should be a close exciting series going seven games, with the Thunder winning at home.